To cap off a great day, we visited Kona Brewery and enjoyed local caught tuna and flights of their freshly brewed beer. Not normally a beer connoisseur myself, but surprisingly I took a likeing to a few of their beers!
Did you know?……these Madagascar geckos are everywhere now on the Big Island! They are beautiful but they EAT the native Hawaiian geckos!
I tell you what, front row seats at the luau are totally worth it!!
This luau was right along the water next to King Kamehameha’s tomb, complete with tiki torches and talented dancers! Lisa and I received leis, and the boys shell necklaces. The ‘king’ and his court came in by boat, landed on the beach, and opened the luau onstage. There were games, we learned to dance hula (embarrassingly fun), the buffet was amazing, open bars, fantastic band, and very talented dancers!
‘Swing Those Hips!’ video (22MB, 11 sec): dscn5796
They even had cooked pigs and turkeys underground in the traditional emu style. Everyone needs to try this type of meat at some point in their lives because it is so amazingly yummy! 🙂
What a great night! Thank you Dad and Lisa! (Shout Out to Dad who won the game of Smart Ass later that night! 😛 )
On a warm and sunny Sunday morning (23 Oct 2016), we decided to go to the beach that the locals call ‘Two Step’ (because of the steps carved into the rock at the water’s edge) since we had heard from a local Hawaiian artist that dolphins like to sleep there, and the gorgeous reef was an added bonus.
We could see tons of dorsal fins right off the reef in the middle of the small bay. “Get that wetsuit on faster!” I thought to myself. Surprisingly, it was almost eerily quiet when we finally slipped into the water…
To our surprise, we could see an entire pod of dolphins swimming in a funnel formation in the deep water in the middle of the bay (maybe 50-60ft, 18m). Countless groups of two to 10 dolphins swam slowly (as if in a trance) all circling some imaginary middle point as they half slept. The groups pumped their tails slowly to the surface to grab a breath of air before swimming down again to the depths.
“Take a deep breath!” video (14.4 MB, 7sec): dscn5700
It was a surreal experience to have the dolphins surfacing all around us! In total, there were probably about 200 dolphins!! We even saw a few baby dolphins! So cute! They were the first ones to wake up and start making little squeaking sounds. Gradually, over the next hour, the rest of the pod woke up and soon the water was alive with their chatter. It was so cool to hear all their clicks, whizzes, and whistles from under water!
You could see some of the adults take speed under water and burst through the surface spiraling into the air. That’s how we figured out we had a pod of spinner dolphins all around us!
Absorbed, we waited and watched in the water until all the dolphins left the bay before making our way to shore to warm up and eat lunch. We looked at the clock when we got out and saw that we had been in the water for roughly three hours!
What an amazing day Under the Sea!! …And the day wasn’t over yet, we had a luau to look forward to!
On Saturday (22 Oct 2016), Dad and Lisa took us all out on a big fishing trip along the Kona coast! Everything was set for success. We even saw a HUGE fish in the water and tons or large bait fish jumping to avoid becoming a meal!
We went looking for the Marlins, but ended up with nothing on the hook.
However, we had a great day on the water and enjoyed snorkeling in the crystal clear water at Captain Cook’s cove!
Getting to see the active volcano at the Big Island’s volcano park was amazing. When the sulfuric acid steam cleared, you could see the bubbling lava in the caldera of the volcano! Luckily for us, the wind was blowing in the other direction so we weren’t choked by the fumes.
The volcano is surrounded by an ancient forest of giant ferns.
Hidden among the ferns is a large lava tube, which was super cool to explore!
We had a great day exploring Volcanos National Park!
The family packed into the minivan and we drove to the small harbor by the Sheraton Hotel. Right outside this hotel is favorite feeding ground for Manta Rays, since the hotel decided to put up large spot lights along the cliffs so their dinner guests could watch the waves while whining and dining. It just so happens that krill are attracted to these lights and the Mantas have taken a liking to the particular conditions and come back day after day to feed.
Once the big boat was secured in place, we donned snorkel gear and wetsuits and slipped into the dark water. There was a long ladder-like structure that the tour company had mounted spotlights on, shining down into the water (about 30 ft deep). We all took ahold of a rung along the edge, rested our ankles on a floaty noodle (so we didn’t kick the fish!), and waited awkwardly for the stars of the show.
Other tour boats were also present so we could see their beams lighting up shafts of water not too far away. Seeing the fish and krill dart in and out of the light to catch the accumulating krill was something, but it was nothing compared to when the Mantas soared into view from the depths!!! It’s hard to take a good photo in the dark, but here are a few. Check out the two videos below too!
They look like they are flying as they flap through the water, and they ARE HUGE! They flip upside down and scoop the water close to the spotlights to get the most amount of krill possible. They were so close to our faces they bumped into our masks!!
Manta Ray Video close up (62 MB, 27 sec): pa200018
The cold hike in the rain confined me to the bed with a box of tissues, but I was determined to rest up. The allure of snorkeling with Manta Rays later that night was enough to keep me there when the boys announced they were going out hunting! They loaded up the snorkeling gear, Dad’s traditional Hawaiian sling pole spear with a rubber band, and a fishing knife and headed off to the the nearest State beach (where it’s legal to spear fish).
I awoke to my ecstatic brother bursting into the room– “I knifed it! I knifed it!!”
The astonished laugh of my husband filled the room as Dom told the story of their hunting adventures that day… He had cleverly smashed a purple sea urchin (which are destructive to the reef) and put it on the end of his long fishing knife. As the enquiring fish came in for a closer look, his quick reflexes prevailed and he stabbed it right through the tough scale armor of a brown unicorn fish!
Lukas had also managed to spear a blackish blue trigger fish with the traditional spear! He said it was extremely difficult since the fish reacted to the sound of the stretching rubber as if they knew what was coming! Plus you had to aim a bit in front of the fish since they are swimming!
When they set to cleaning the fish, we were all surprised at the texture of the scales of the fish. It almost felt like armored thick sandpappery leather skin instead of scales. Their triumph of actually catching the fish by hand dulled their sense of guilt for killing the pretty reef fishy…
We grillled the fish on the BBQ with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. The brown unicorn fish had nice flavorful meat. If you are wonderingly about the black fish… we didn’t cook it… since it gushed out brownish gook when they were cleaning it out and it stunk to high heaven!!(Lukas: “this FISH is 90% poop!!”)
On our hike in the rain we picked up a fruit that we thought was an unripe mangosteen. We excitedly attempted to open it at the breakfast table the next day (since we didn’t have time to wait for it to ripen), but it’s thick skin put up a good fight and we had to get out ‘the big knife’. Imagine our surprise when we saw this neon colored sticky GOO… looks Dangerous to ME!!
Early in the morning on the 19th of October, Lukas, Dominic, Gary, and I all piled into the mustang and headed up the cost to take the saddle road over to the Hilo side of the island to hike!
As we cruised up the coast in the Hawaiian sunshine, we passed plains of tufts of waving grass growing out of the lava covered coast and wondered at the strange small cone-shaped mountains hinting of eruptions past.
Our goose bumps forced us to put on the car top as we increased in altitude on the steep incline. The temperature steadily dropped from a balmy 82F to a chilly 64F on the way to the misty crest of the saddle pass between Mona Kea and Mona Loa. A torrential downpour commenced and the wind shield wipers worked frantically the entire way down the mountain.
We were determined to reach Rainbow falls that we had seen on the AAA map, and thankfully the rain turned to a threaten of a drizzle as we pulled into the parking lot.
On the way to the top of the waterfall, we found an absolutely enormous banion tree. The boys tried to swing from the hanging roots like Tarzan and I found a bunch of passion fruit!
We all made it out to the top of the waterfall:
After rinsing the mud from our tennis shoes, it was time for our next hike. We searched for the trail head to no avail, and in desperation asked a local for directions. He gave us directions and mentioned he was on his way by the place and invited us four to hop into the back of his pick up truck and he would drop us there! Hah! Nice guy!
Despite the rain, we thoroughly enjoyed our hike- collecting guavas, finding wild orchids everywhere and eating lunch by the river.
Drenched, we hopped into the car, cranked up the heat and began our drive around the south side of the island. What a great way to scope out where we wanted to come back to during the rest of the trip, and to experience several of the 10 microclimates on The Big Island.